I’m a voracious learner – curious about everything and always at risk of disappearing down any number of fascinating rabbit holes.
A couple of years ago I started a new morning routine (shout out to Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning). Since then I have started most days with some quiet reading and have increased my reading ten fold. This practice feeds my curiosity, educates me on a wide variety of topics, and has become one of the most enjoyable parts of my day.
This week I am reading Tim Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors, and this morning’s insight came from one of the mentors featured in this book: Vitalik Buterin, who is the creator of Ethereum, and the co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine. His recommendation is simple yet powerful:
“Be interdisciplinary. In my case, I follow quite a bit of research in computer science, cryptography, mechanism design, economics, politics, and other social sciences, and the interactions between these fields tend to very often inform strategic and protocol decisions.”
I love this advice, and it is a powerful force in innovation. It reminds me of one of my favourite innovation stories that was shared by Greg Satell in this article in Harvard Business Review:
“One of the best innovation stories I’ve ever heard came to me from a senior executive at a leading tech firm. Apparently, his company had won a million-dollar contract to design a sensor that could detect pollutants at very small concentrations underwater. It was an unusually complex problem, so the firm set up a team of crack microchip designers, and they started putting their heads together.
About 45 minutes into their first working session, the marine biologist assigned to their team walked in with a bag of clams and set them on the table. Seeing the confused looks of the chip designers, he explained that clams can detect pollutants at just a few parts per million, and when that happens, they open their shells.
As it turned out, they didn’t really need a fancy chip to detect pollutants — just a simple one that could alert the system to clams opening their shells. “They saved $999,000 and ate the clams for dinner,” the executive told me.”
Do you have any great examples of the power of being interdisciplinary?
I’d love to hear them.